why become a listening organization?
You’re committed to your company and to having it grow and prosper. You’ve invested a ton of money and time into the operation. Millions in real estate, equipment, the latest technology, inventory, employees and training. Oh and let’s not forget the money you invest every month on advertising to make the phone ring with new prospects.
It’s a significant financial investment and you can’t even calculate how many hours you’ve put in over the past 10 years.
While all that’s true, when I implore dealers to start a ‘listening and feedback’ program, most of the time the idea is met with some resistance in the beginning. Dealers typically report that they don’t have the time, nor do they want to spend anything on the process.
So let’s look at what’s to be gained by establishing a formal listening program. Maybe this will help you cross the bridge.
Most of the revenue generated in a tire and auto repair business is tied to the conversations taking place on inbound and outbound calls. That fact alone screams, WE NEED TO LISTEN!
Listening and assessing sales and customer service calls will show you exactly who is turning business away and who needs coaching.
Structured listening allows you to establish closing percentages by product category which will show you exactly what training and coaching is needed to make improvements.
Regular weekly listening and statistical analysis allows you to track improvements and to acknowledge staff members who are doing good work.
Listening in real time, allows you to save sales by following up on customer calls that weren’t handle properly. This is huge and allows you to save sales all the time.
When a sales team knows that you are listening and that you care, they try harder to do a good job, assuming that you have clear standards set. That’s a different topic for consideration.
Dealers report that their staff doesn’t want to be listened to by the ‘sales police’. I completely agree with that sentiment so you’ll need to set up a ‘professional coaching’ context. That is, serious athletes and musicians all crave good feedback that can help them improve. That type of context is an absolute must when setting up a listening program.
You must assure your team that ‘you are NOT the police’ but rather you want a business partnership with them as follows. You will advertise and drive traffic into the store on the phone and on foot. Their main responsibility in the partnership, is to do a professional job by making commitments to take care of customers. A well designed listening program will allow you to grow the competence, confidence and personal power of your employees.
Finally, a formal listening program will allow you to find and fix breakdowns in other non sales related areas of the business. For instance, you can learn about telecom equipment problems and call routing issues. We always shine a light on the problem of hang ups. Most owners don’t realize that about 10% of all calls end up as some flavor of a hang up. For instance, on one occasion several years ago, I asked a client how come their voice mail activity picked up around noon every day. This client had 25 locations and it was a pattern at the branches. We investigated and discovered that stores were shutting down the phones during lunch. That problem was fixed pretty quickly.
You can learn more about your people and can find good calls to use as examples for new employees to emulate.
Getting started is easy, as call tracking programs are commonplace and exist in the ‘cloud’. Keeping the program going is not hard either and will require someone to become the champion of the cause inside the business. Most of my clients who have crossed the bridge, such as Mountain View Tire, quickly realize the overall importance and the economic benefit. As a matter of record owner, Chris Mitsos calls it his most important strategic tool.
Language is the gasoline of your business and listening regularly will help you keep the engine finely tuned.